Beijing Continues Relentless Crackdown on Shouwang Church

November 12, 2009

BEIJING–Since the secret directive to dismantle Beijing house churches was issued in August, 2009, Beijing security officials have maintained their relentless campaign against house churches. On Sunday, November 8, Shouwang church members were forced for a second week to meet outside the frozen East Gate of Haidian Park. Watch the video from November 1, 2009–Shouwang Church Members singing in the snow. 

At 9:00 AM, Pastor Jin Tianming of Shouwang Church was seized by police officers outside his home on Sunday morning. To prevent him from leading his church in worship, officers forced him to speak with them for three hours, at a location near his home. Though not formally detained, Pastor Jin was unable to lead the Shouwang congregation in service. At 10:00 AM, 500 Shouwang Church members assembled in Beijing Haidian Park, but were blocked by Beijing PSB officials from entering. The officials had previously placed a sign indicating the park was “closed” before they arrived. Members were then forced to worship outside the East Gate once again. Elder Sun Yi led the congregation in Pastor Jin’s place.

The same morning, government officials blocked the Shouwang Church website, attempting to subvert the efforts of the church to continue the ministry and potential report on their repression. The crackdown on communications extended beyond technology to fellow Christians seeking to offer encouragement and help.

On November 10, 2009, Pastor Bike and his wife Xie Feng-lan were held in “soft detention” by Shanghai authorities, after visiting house churches in the city. They intended to meet with Shouwang Church before local authorities tracked Pastor Bike down and held the pair in a hotel, detaining him until he could be transferred back to authorities in Henan. Mr. Zhang, the head of the Nanyang Domestic Security Protection Squad arrived on Tuesday to escort them back to Nanyang, but due to heavy snows, they were delayed Zhengzhou city, the capital of Henan. Though he was not formally arrested, Pastor Bike’s movements have been closely tracked by the PSB–evidence that authorities are wary of church-related activities in the advent of President Obama’s arrival on Sunday.

The conclusion of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 did not bring the freedom and peace to minority groups in China so highly anticipated by the international community. From the beginning of 2009, the central government had already begun waging its campaign against Shouwang church, denying  the church’s legal formal application to register as an “independent church.” They followed all of the legal procedures required meticulously, using legal counsel to make sure their forms were according to the relevant laws and rules. The government’s reasons for denial were the following: 1) Pastor Jin has “not gone through enough patriotic education;” and 2) “Beijing has enough churches.” Privately, the government leaders pressured Pastor Jin Tianming to join the official TSPM organization, enticing him with a prominent official position.  Pastor Jin adamantly rejected that offer. Immediately after, Beijing authorities launched a special campaign called “Anti- Christianity Illegal Religious Activities Special Campaign.”

As of October 29, 2009,Shouwang Church was not able to renew their rental contract with Huajie Plaza where they had worshipped weekly since 2005 because the heavy pressure to Huajie from the govt. After failing to get another contract to rent in numerous attempts, the Shouwang church decided to purchase a property. Even with 20 millon Yuan in cash, despite offers to at least two property owners at bidding price, Shouwang Church was met with silence from property owners, because of the intense pressure from the government. They have now been forced to worship outdoors for the second week in a row. Read the press release from November 2, 2009.

ChinaAid demands this unjust and illegal campaign against Chinese house churches be brought to light and stopped. We call for the religious freedoms guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution to applied to its own citizens. We further call on American citizens to raise awareness of the dire consquences of silence, if President Obama fails to speak to human rights in China. The world stood by as the Beijing Summer Olympics passed–but our silence condemns the persecuted believers living in the same city that brought the world so much joy.